You have managed to save up money for your building project, maybe for direct occupancy, business, investment, philanthropy, or whatever purpose excites you and now you are ready to set the ball rolling. If you pick the wrong team, you have already started on a weak foot and things might just not end well. If you pick the right team and have the wrong mentality, sooner or later you will shoot yourself in the foot. In this clime, there are no perfect rules for selecting your perfect project handler however the best approach will be what I call the Spider Silk Rule – being soft and hard at the same time.
There is an age-long argument as to which professional is best as your first point of contact for your building project. Before you are dragged into that, please note that building industry professionals have distinct roles and responsibilities and any of them can be approached first but in doing so, you have to understand and appreciate their functions as well as their inter-relationship, and how best to work with them to give you your desired product.
Using this rule, I have put together a set of items to consider in choosing contractor(s) or consultant(s) for your building project that won’t burn your fingers.
- Choose your approach.
Usually at the beginning, the ball is almost entirely in your court. Nobody will choose for you, it’s up to you.
If you are particularly concerned about how much the project will cost because you don’t want to ‘start what you cannot finish’, you should approach an experienced Quantity Surveyor or a Builder/Building Engineer first for advice. These professionals are vastly conversant with current cost realities, reliable projections, and various alternatives.
Now take advice, yes sincere, quality advice before navigating the construction process because to get a final product you would delight in is not always as easy as the word ‘straight’. I can give free helpful advice, however, if you must pay for professional advice elsewhere, pay and save yourself some regrets.
If you are keen on aesthetics as a priority to cost, you can start talking with an architect for your building project. Architects give you design options and generally add sparks to your imagination. Some architects do not just design, they manage projects as Project Architects -having vast experience with site workings and understanding construction cost dynamics. This might give you a fair advantage in cost and design options, but this is not always the case.
Better still, open talks with a reputable building consultant or contractor, or construction company and follow through. Where cost and aesthetics are not your primary concern but strength, stability, and durability, then a structural engineer is your best bet, and so on.
- Check your availability.
Check your availability throughout the projected timeline of your project. If you will not be physically available for your project, you should very much consider engaging a reputable contractor that provides a single point of responsibility from design to completion, or a consultant(s) for your design and pre-construction items and a contractor for the entire construction. Depending on the project size you can also engage a professional construction/Project Manager that will be directly responsible to you, for overseeing the activities of your contractor or various consultants on your project. But if otherwise, you can explore other flexible options but be intentional about personal monitoring.
- Be Professional
Oh yeah! You don’t need a master’s to become a professional client. Just have a fair understanding of the construction processes, know how to manage the inter-relationship between various construction professionals involved in your project, and understand and follow through with your role and responsibilities in the actualization of the project. Continue to update your knowledge on the working of the industry, for instance by reading Site Expo and construction-related media content elsewhere.
As much as you can, avoid emotional sentiments when choosing your project handlers. Construction Project delivery is not the same as baking pancakes and should not be taken as a ‘family affair’. Due diligence should be observed in selecting your consultants or contractor -track records of performance, financial integrity, and professionalism over any form of sentiment.